Meat Industry Ireland (MII) is entering the talks “with an optimistic view” on what processors and farming representatives could achieve together in implementing all elements of the Beef Sector Agreement.

The Ibec representative group noted this in a statement issued this morning, Monday, October 14, ahead of the first meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce, set to be held later today.

MII member companies have implemented the principal bonus-related elements of the agreement which have benefited farmers on cattle processed since September 22, the group said in its statement.

In addition, the commitment to withdraw legal proceedings connected to the illegal blockading of beef plants has been honoured by the beef companies concerned.

MII said it notes that other aspects of the agreement are important to making progress in the beef sector, adding that it is “fully committed to working on the implementation of these”.

However, it stressed that the “remit of the taskforce is not renegotiation but to monitor the implementation of the agreement”.

“We are only weeks away from a potential no-deal Brexit that would grievously harm the decades of progress made in building a strong presence of Irish beef in UK retail and foodservice channels,” the MII statement warned.

“Successive CAP reforms have led to an erosion of single farm payments to beef producers which is now an acute part of the income pressure.

Also, falling consumption of beef across the European market is weakening the underlying demand – this needs to be addressed through promotion and through securing new market outlets internationally.

Lastly, MII referred to the provision requiring parties to the agreement to comply with the dispute resolution provisions and urged all parties to “re-commit to this requirement as a gesture to customers both within the EU and internationally”.

“They urgently need to know that Ireland has moved past the recent trade disruption that has been very unsettling and damaging to our collective standing in export markets,” the statement concluded.